Methylphenidate in children with hyperactivity

Gilmore A, Best L, Milne R
Record ID 31998008896
Authors' objectives:

Methylphenidate has been used widely in hyperactive children since the 1970s. Its use has become commonplace in the UK over the last few years and is rising rapidly. The authors evaluate its effectiveness in the treatment of children with hyperkinetic disorder.

Authors' results and conclusions: Methylphenidate was found to improve children's behaviour (at school and at home), reduce inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, and improve academic function and mother-child relationships. Randomised controlled trials of 4-6 months duration show that effects on school behaviour, the cardinal features and academic function persist. The effects on home behaviour over this timescale are inconsistent. It has also been shown that in the majority of children, treatment with methylphenidate renders at least some aspects of behaviour into a range statistically indistinguishable from normal children. Longer term benefits have not been assessed in well-designed trials. Side-effects caused up to 9% of the sample to discontinue medication. Two studies found that behaviour improved significantly over time even on placebo.
Authors' recommendations: As evidence from good and medium quality RCTs shows benefits of methylphenidate over weeks and months respectively, and methylphenidate is of reasonable cost-effectiveness when considering the short term benefits alone, the authors strongly support its short term use, as well as offering qualified support for its long term use, in the absence of clear evidence.
Authors' methods: Review
Project Status: Completed
URL for project:
Year Published: 1998
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: England
MeSH Terms
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Child Behavior
  • Methylphenidate
Organisation Name: Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development
Contact Address: Pauline King. Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development, Boldrewood Medical School, Bassett Crescent East, Highfield, Southampton. SO16 7PX Tel. +44 1703 595661 Fax +44 1703 595662
Copyright: Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development (WIHRD)
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